European Conference on Psychological Assessment edition:10 location:Ghent, Belgium date:16 - 19 September, 2009
Previous research on differential parenting (DP) indicates that it is important to take into account children’s perspectives in order to explain associations between DP and relationship quality, child problem or prosocial behavior. Siblings seem to make a distinction between unfair and fair differential treatment by parents (Kowal & Kramer, 1997) and this is related to child outcome (e.g. Kowal et al., 2002; Shanahan et al., 2008; Sheehan & Noller, 2002). However, children do not necessarily view parenting that is favorable to oneself as fair, or parenting that is advantageous to a sibling as unfair. Moreover, perception of fairness does not exclude the possibility of maladaptive outcome, because children with low self-esteem can view their unfavorable treatment as fair (McHale et al., 2000). This denotes the need to study underlying mechanisms that may explain the association between perceived DP and child outcome, such as child attributions towards DP and more general perceptions of control.
The present study reports on children’s views (opinions, feelings, and thoughts) on differential parenting, their attributions about DP, and the relationship quality with siblings and parents. In order to obtain qualitative data several focus groups, consisting of children aged 9 to 12, were organized. In the discussion both methodological and content issues concerning assessment of children’s perspectives on DP and attributions will be examined.